Chicago gynecologist accused of sexually abusing more than 300 patients at several area hospitals: complaint

A Chicago-area gynecologist has been accused of sexually abusing more than 300 female patients and his employers allegedly covered it up, according to a lawsuit filed this week. 

The lawsuit filed Monday night on behalf of "Jane Doe 300" accuses Endeavor Health of knowingly giving a platform to Dr. Fabio Ortega after being made aware of alleged sexual abuse and predatory behavior. 

Ortega has preyed upon hundreds of vulnerable women with reports of inappropriate behavior dating back to the 1980s, according to the complaint. 

The complaint states that Ortega was employed by NorthShore University HealthSystem, NorthShore Medical Group, and Swedish Covenant Hospital when the alleged abuse occurred. These institutions were recently acquired by Endeavor Health. 

When patients reported the abuse and their concerns about Ortega, his employers misled the women into believing Ortega's inappropriate actions were medically necessary, according to the lawsuit. 

The complaint alleges that Swedish had information related to Ortega's abuse at the institution, which dates back to the early 1980s. When NorthShore acquired Swedish in 2019, they were made aware of the allegations against Ortega. 

Ortega was accused of grooming, visiting patients outside work, failing to treat patients, falsifying medical records, and performing exams that were not medically necessary. 

The complaint alleges that Ortega targeted young women who did not have experience with gynecological exams, Spanish-speaking patients, pregnant women, Medicare patients and women from underserved communities because he knew they were less likely to understand they were being abused or report it.  

The complaint details a patient's experience with Ortega when he served as her OBGYN in January 1992. The patient was 3 months pregnant at the time she began seeing him. During each of her appointments, Ortega told her to get fully undressed. 

Ortega would proceed to perform unnecessary exams. When the patient reported the uncomfortable behavior to two assistants, they told her the exams were necessary. 

The woman claimed Ortega would ask her a multitude of questions about the number of times she had sex with her husband and the sexual positions that they liked. 

When she became pregnant again in 1993, the woman saw her family care doctor for a test to confirm it. When he offered her a referral to Ortega for OBGYN care, the patient told the physician that he made her uncomfortable and explained her experience with seeing him the last time she was pregnant. 

The family medicine physician told her that she should have reported Ortega's conduct because it was "inappropriate abuse." Despite the physician being a mandatory reporter, he took no other actions to help. 

Ortega was also accused of mutilating a 17-year-old girl in 1996 after she had given birth, telling the girl's husband that he was going to make her "tighter." 

Several patients requested female chaperons when seeing Ortega, according to the complaint.

The abuse reports continued at Swedish and Northshore until 2017 when a patient at Northshore's Skokie clinic reported Ortega's behavior to the police. 

The complaint alleges that Northshore continued to allow Ortega to treat patients without supervision and concealed their knowledge of the pending criminal investigation from patients. 

In March 2017, Skokie police learned that Northshore was impeding their attempts to interview Ortega. He allegedly sexually abused several more patients between March and May that year. 

As the investigation continued, Northshore delayed sending medical records to Skokie police. 

On Aug. 12, 2017, Ortega allegedly sexually abused a woman who had just given birth 12 hours earlier. He was arrested for sexually assaulting his patient over a year later on Sept. 10, 2018. He lost his medical license the following month. 

On Oct. 19, 2021, Ortega pleaded guilty to two counts of felony criminal sexual abuse for sexually assaulting two female patients at Northshore, in 2016 and 2017 and served time in prison for those sexual assaults. 

Ortega was sentenced to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. His license to practice medicine was permanently revoked on December 14, 2021, due to his failure to respond to the complaining patient’s allegations of sexual assault. 

The suspension of Ortega's license and his arrest was not publicly reported, and his former patients did not have a reasonable way to learn of this information, according to the lawsuit.

Fox 32 News has reached out to Endeavor Health for comment. 

The complete complaint can be found below: